As far as negative emotions go, I'm pretty sure jealousy is at the top of the list. Not only does it hurt like hell, but it has a way of making the world seem totally and completely unfair. That is, unless, you know how to turn your jealousy into motivation.
This may seem like a farfetched idea — especially if you've gotten into the habit of unfairly comparing yourself to others. But trust me when I say this sucky feeling can be a good thing. As licensed therapist John Mathews, LCSW, says in an email to Bustle, "We have emotions for a reason. They give us information about how our lives are going and the world around us ... A jolt of jealousy can cause you to reflect on your life, and can help you to uncover your values."
So, the next time you're overcome by the green-eyed monster, take a moment to think about what that emotion is trying to tell you. Are you feeling jealous because you want something you don't have, or because you'd like to be more accomplished? Whatever it is, turn that jealousy into motivation — and save yourself all the agony — by following these simple steps. I promise you'll be feeling better about yourself (and way less jealous) in no time.
1. Pinpoint What's Making You Feel So Jealous
Like I said, the next time you feel a pang of jealousy, take a moment to figure out what it all might mean. As writer Karen Asp said on Cosmopolitan, "... use those icky feelings as a wake-up call to clue you in to what’s missing in your world." Do you wish for a better job? Or crave healthier relationships? Let jealousy show you the way.
2. Know That It's Probably About Feelings, And Not Things
Jealousy can be misleading. You might feel jealous of your friend's job, for example, but that doesn't mean you want to go into her exact same field. You might simply be envious of her success, or the fact that she seems so happy at work. In fact, as life coach Ryann Pitcavage tells me, most of what we crave in life is a new feeling, and not really "things" at all.
3. Know You Can Have It, Too
The cool thing about the world is there is room enough for all of us. Yes, someone out there has the talent/relationship/job you want, but that doesn't mean you can't have it, too. Knowing anything can be yours (if you work for it) is incredibly motivating.
4. Start Working On Yourself
Even if you don't achieve your goals right away, simply working on yourself is a great place to start. Being active (practicing that instrument, writing that rough draft) will make you feel a part of it all, instead of like an envious outsider looking in. And besides, everyone's gotta start somewhere.
5. Recognize All Their Hard Work
Sure, some people are naturally talented and magically good at everything. But most of us have to work our asses off if we want to nurture a skill, or have some type of success with it. This time commitment is important to remember, Mathews tells me — especially if you want to avoid unfairly comparing yourself to someone else.
6. Do What They Do Every Day
Instead of staring someone down with envious eyes, turn them into your new inspiration and start to learn their ways. As author Susan Harrow said on Psychology Today, "When there’s something I want, I’ve trained myself to shift out of 'jealous lurker mode' and into 'student mode.'" Learning from them is not only a healthier response, but a pretty good way to reach your goals.
7. Turn Your Envy Into Admiration
It can be tempting to hide from the source of your jealousy, so as not to fan the flames. But trust me when I say it'll be way more helpful to get all up in their life. Go ahead and approach them and ask how they achieved their goals. "You'll likely learn a lot, build a positive connection, and free yourself from the emotional heaviness of jealousy," Pitcavage says.
8. Follow Them (Or Someone Like Them) On Social Media
To get daily doses of inspiration, follow your role model on social media. "Seeing what they are tweeting, posting, quoting on Instagram, Twitter, [or] Snapchat will help keep your motivation to be in their shoes on a daily basis," says millennial career expert Jill Jacinto, in an email to Bustle.
9. Ask Where They've Slipped Up
Once you and your new idol are BFFs, go ahead ask them about any road blocks they've experienced. As Jacinto tells me, knowing that this supposedly "perfect" person has had their fair share of struggles will help you realize your dreams are 100 percent attainable, too.
10. Celebrate Your Successes
Remember to celebrate how far you've come, instead of feeling bad about what you've yet to accomplish. "This is where you get to reward yourself every step of the way," says teacher and dancer Yattah Jones, in an email to Bustle. "Celebration actually gives you the motivation to keep going, which is ultimately what it's all about."
11. Remember Your Strengths
If you're feeling jealous of someone, it can help to remember that everyone reaches their goals in different ways. So if you're trying to emulate them, and it's just not working out, go ahead and switch things up. Think of your own strengths and then apply them accordingly.
And remember, jealousy should be a source of motivation — not something that makes you feel like a failure. Turn it into action and it will get you where you want to go.
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